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Amazing Mid-century Photographs of San Francisco

Parking on the steep hill just below the Mark Hopkins hotel

After World War II, San Francisco was entering a new golden age. People were happy and enjoying all the things they hadn’t been able to during the war. Photographer Fred Lyon, a fourth-generation San Franciscan, explored all corners of the city. Here’s his wonderful collection of black and white photographs of San Francisco taken between 1940-1960.

Also check: Color Photos Showing Life In The United States In The 1960s-1980s

Fishermen hauling in their nets along Sausalito waterfront

Fishermen hauling in their nets along Sausalito waterfront

Cable Car Turnaround, 1946

Cable Car Turnaround, 1946

Woman at flowerstand in Union Square, San Francisco, 1958

Woman at flowerstand in Union Square, San Francisco, 1958

Two construction workers eating lunch downtown revel in their front-row seats above the bustle of the noon crowd

Two construction workers eating lunch downtown revel in their front-row seats above the bustle of the noon crowd

Twin Peaks, Woodside Avenue

Twin Peaks, Woodside Avenue

Turntable, 1946

Turntable, 1946

Telegraph Hill & Coit Tower, 1956

Telegraph Hill & Coit Tower, 1956

Boys on coasters, North Beach, San Francisco, 1953

Boys on coasters, North Beach, San Francisco, 1953

San Francisco cable car overlooking Telegraph Hill

San Francisco cable car overlooking Telegraph Hill

San Francisco Cable Car at the top of a hill in San Francisco

San Francisco Cable Car at the top of a hill in San Francisco

San Francisco Ballet performs the Nutcracker Suite

San Francisco Ballet performs the Nutcracker Suite

San Francisco (6)

San Francisco (5)

San Francisco (4)

San Francisco (3)

San Francisco (2)

San Francisco (1)

Sailors on leave at Fisherman's Wharf buying souvenirs, San Francisco

Sailors on leave at Fisherman’s Wharf buying souvenirs, San Francisco

Post & Powell, Union Square, 1947

Post & Powell, Union Square, 1947

Parking on the steep hill just below the Mark Hopkins hotel

Parking on the steep hill just below the Mark Hopkins hotel

Ocean Beach from Sutro Heights

Ocean Beach from Sutro Heights

Nob Hill & Pine Street, San Francisco

Nob Hill & Pine Street, San Francisco

Market Street, San Francisco

Market Street, San Francisco

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38 Comments on "Amazing Mid-century Photographs of San Francisco"

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Doug Schukar
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I’m from Mill Valley & these pics take me back when I was young & growing up in the bay area. Love it!

Marlin
Guest
A wonderful compilation of black and white memories that are full technicolor in my mind. This is the beautiful, safe San Francisco I grew up with in the 50s and 60s. So many firsts…learning to drive and parallel parking on the crazy streets and hills, a Christmas treat of watching the San Francisco Ballet perform The Nutcracker, experiencing a traditional Chinese wedding in Chinatown, fried prawns at Allots, window-shopping at Union Square on Black Fridays, hiking up the streets at night to visit an aunt in one of the classic old SF apartment buildings…almost every photo brings back memories.
EstebanCafe
Guest
What a horrible period of time ! They all look like they were peaceful and happy in their White Privilege while the minorities were kept underground and fed filth ! Very few pics of them, and they only seemed happy–they could not know they had internalized racism and were deeply anguished. SF is much better today: lower crime rates and taxes, great welfare benefits, a kinder and gentler people not so focused on making a buck or kicking a Black, Gay or Hispanic–and just where are THOSE photos ? What a miracle change from those evil days ! I’m almost… Read more »
Cowdab
Guest

Well, that perspective certainly snapped me out of it. I was seeing it from a white perspective, a simpler time and less technology, signage and all that. I wish it were a lot better racially than it was then but we must take what progress has been made and build on it. It is a painfully slow process for sure.

stephqt
Guest

Love these photos! Can you tell me what park the circular slide is at? We used to go to Funston Park as kids. I’m trying to remember if that was the park. Thank you

DMc
Guest

Why aren’t the photographer names listed with the images?

Jeff
Guest

“Photographer Fred Lyon, a fourth-generation San Franciscan, explored all corners of the city. Here’s his wonderful collection of black and white photographs taken between 1940-1960.”

That says enough, don’t you think?

Berkeley_born
Guest

They’re all by Fred Lyon.

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